When Code Became History


Apollo was the first time that men entrusted their lives to computer software. The mission required it, and now, as the LM ignited its engine for the descent to the lunar surface, the mission had come to its most complex and dangerous phase. No one knew, at that moment, that when the spacecraft was powered up a condition had been created that was now causing 13.4% of the computer's CPU time to be consumed in counting meaningless pulses. What happened next — with the whole world watching —was the moment that code, the music of the machine, became an actor in human history.

Language: English

Level: Non technical / For everyone

Don Eyles

Principal Member Technical Staff (Ret.) - Charles Stark Draper Lab

Don Eyles worked on the Apollo Project from 1966 through 1972 and on the NASA space program until 1998 as a computer scientist at the MIT Instrumentation Lab and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. He created flight software for the lunar landing phase of the Moon mission and was awarded NASA's Public Service Award for his part in solving an in-flight problem on Apollo 14. He invented a sequencing system called Timeliner that is currently in operation onboard the International Space Station. He is the author of "Sunburst and Luminary: an Apollo Memoir," published in 2018 by Fort Point Press.

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